- February 13th, 2017
[Drift Ice Cruise in Monbetsu] Tourists Can Enjoy Powerful Breaking Drift Ice by Garinkogo2
Drift Ice Sightseeing in Monbetsu
There are 2 sightseeing spots that tourists can enjoy the scheduled drift ice cruising in Japan. Monbetsu in the northeastern part of the Hokkaido faces the Sea of Okhotsk, and is one of the sightseeing spots for drift ice cruising. Drift ice drifts to the offing of Monbetsu around mid January. If common ships collide with the drift ice, those are broken, but Drift Ice Icebreaker Garinkogo2 (流氷砕氷船ガリンコ号Ⅱ) that can break the drift ice zone goes into service. A lot of tourists visit here to see the drift ice from early January to late March. The drift ice icebreaker Garinkogo2 goes into service from 5 to 7 each day, and cruising time is around 60 minutes. The tourists can get aboard a ship at Kaiyokoryukan boarding point (海洋交流館). * Garinkogo3 IMERU has been in servive since 2021.
Drift Ice Spots and Drift Ice Cruise
In Japan, Drift ice appears only from January to March, and can be enjoyed only along the Sea of Okhotsk and a part of Pacific Ocean. The sea is covered with the drift ice from the shoreline of Monbetsu to Shiretoko Peninsula, and it is amazing view! It may be said that you must see the amazing view once. Hokkaido has 3 towns called "Monbetsu", Monbetsu (紋別) along the sea of the Okhotsk, Date Monbetsu (伊達紋別) along the Pacific Ocean and Monbetsu (門別) along the Pacific Ocean. In those Monbetsu, a place to view the drift ice is the Monbetsu (紋別) along the sea of the Okhotsk, and the Monbetsu, Abashiri (網走), Koshimizu (小清水), Shari (斜里) and Rausu (羅臼) have some drift ice spots. Tourists can enjoy the drift ice on the shore, and also enjoy it as the drift ice cruise on the sea. Unfortunately, global warming cause decreasing the drift ice recently, but you may see wild animals such as Earless Seal and Steller's Sea-eagle on the drift ice if you are lucky. Read More
Okhotsk Tower (オホーツクタワー), Okhotsk Tokkari Center (オホーツクとっかりセンター * The Tokkari means "Earless seal" in a local Hokkaido dialect) and Okhotsk Sea Ice Museum of Hokkaido GIZA (北海道立オホーツク流氷科学センター) is built near the Kaiyokoryukan Boarding Point, and Clione that is famous as a cruel angel and the earless seal can be enjoyed. In the center of the Monbetsu, Seafood Rice bowl at Marutomi Shokudo (まるとみ食堂) and Deep‐fried Minced Fish and Vegetables at Dezuka Suisan (出塚水産) were eaten, and those were tasty.
Monbetsu Ryuhyo Festival
Monbetsu Ryuhyo Festival (もんべつ流氷まつり * The Ryuhyo means "Drift Ice" in Japanese) is a winter event held in Monbetsu city located in the eastern direction of Asahikawa city, and has started since 1963. The festival is held at the side of Kaiyo-Koryukan (海洋交流館) during 3-4 days in mid February, and about 60,000 tourists come. There are ice sculptures, ice slides, food stalls, a public restroom at the site, and some events such as concerts are held, too. It is very cold, so you had better wear a warm outfit. Admission free. A parking lot is free of charge. Read More
Seafood Rice Bowl
Marutomi Shokudo (まるとみ食堂) is a popular restaurant in Monbetsu city located in the eastern direction of Asahikawa city. Marutomi Watanabe fishery runs it, and there is a fishery store at same building, too. Tasty seafood has high reputation, and it was recommended by my friend. Read More
Deep‐fried Minced Fish and Vegetables
Dezuka Suisan (出塚水産) is a long-established kamaboko (かまぼこ * deep‐fried minced fish and vegetables) factory near Monbetsu port in Monbetsu city, and was founded in 1930. There is kamaboko store at the head factory, and customers can buy fresh deep‐fried minced fish and vegetables. There is a place for the customers to enjoy foods and drinks on 2nd Floor. By the way, the customers can enter the rooftop freely and can look over the Monbetsu port. Read More
By the way, an express bus "Ryuhyo Monbetsu-go (流氷もんべつ号)" runs between the Sapporo and the Monbetsu.
Drift Ice Icebreaker Garinkogo2 Cruise
A characteristic of the Garinkogo2 is Archimedean Screw (アルキメディアン・スクリュー) mounted to a front of the ship. The Archimedean Screw can break ice with a thickness of 60 cm. The tourists can see the real thing and watch the movie on a tv. The seating capacity of this ship is 195. Because the ship is not a large ship, it becomes often full, so you would better make a reservation beforehand. Refer to following websites for the activity company. You can get information regarding online reviews and photos.
A chief engineer of the Garinkogo2 told me that a cold front with a low of -40 C blows from the Siberia to Hokkaido and ice born in the Amur river drifts to the Sea of the Okhotsk by the wind. Shiretoko Peninsula (知床半島) just plays a role as the net, and the sea is covered with the drift ice closely from the offing Of Abashiri to the Shiretoko peninsula.
I thought that all the drift ice was born in Russia. But the chief engineer said "The water of the Amur river flows into the Sea of the Okhotsk, and sea water keeps on separating from freshwater for a period of time, and the concentration of salt in a part of freshwater lowers. Therefore, the seawater of the Sea of the Okhotsk freezes at -1.8 C, and the drift ice forms ice in the Okhotsk. Until about 30 years ago, the drift ice seemed to be seen until June, but now it seems to be seen from late March to April because of influences of global warming".
In addition, earless seals, white-tailed eagles and steller's sea eagles can be seen on the dirft ice, if you are lucky. By the way, there is not always the drift ice. If you are unlucky, it is just crusing. Because it is considerably cold on the ship, Please make sure you will protect yourself against cold weather. You had better bring disposable heating pads.
Atmosphere of Drift Ice and Garinkogo2 Can Be Watched on Youtube
|Passage fare||Adult: JPY 3000. Child: JPY 1500.|
|Parking lot||Free parking is provided (100 cars)|
|Regular closing day||From late March to early January|
|Home page||Home page is here|
|Mapcode||801 615 009*32|
List of Accommodations
Refer to following websites for the accommodations in the Monbetsu. You can get information regarding online reviews and photos.
By the way, Club Tourism (クラブツーリズム), a Japanese tour travel agency, provides various types of tours such as day trip tours or ordinary tours. In the case of bus tours, tourists do not drive their cars themselves, so they can savor alcohol. Choosen tourist attractions are national parks such as Rishiri and Rebun, Shiretoko, and popular tourist places such as Furano and Biei, and some activities such as hiking and fruit picking are also enjoyed depending on seasons. If you are interested in tour trips, you should visit the club tourism's website for details.
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